Another day, another HealthCare.gov glitch

A Verizon data center handling verification of eligibility for federal health-insurance subsidies failed Sunday, the latest glitch plaguing HealthCare.gov, according to several news reports.

The Department of Health and Human Services said a Verizon Terremark data center failed, causing the center to lose network connectivity, according to Reuters. The data center was processing requests to determine eligibility for subsidies to purchase insurance through the federally run health insurance exchanges.

"Our engineers have been working with HHS and other technology companies to identify and address the root cause of the issue. It will (be) fixed as quickly as possible," said Jeffrey Nelson, a spokesman for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, which includes Terramark, Time reported.

The Republican assault over the troubled launch of HealthCare.gov is mounting. Marilyn Tavenner (pictured right), head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is due to testify Tuesday before the House Ways and Means Committee to explain some of the decision-making guiding development of the website, Reuters reported in a separate article.

Also under the gun for HealthCare.gov is Todd Park (pictured left), the White House's chief technology officer. Park, co-founder of athenahealth, helped build HealthCare.gov as CTO of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Boston Business Journal reported, citing earlier reporting by Bloomberg News.

In an Oct. 24 New York Times commentary headlined "Why the government never gets tech right," two tech gurus cited research from the Standish Group stating that 94 percent of large federal IT projects over the past decade were either delayed, over budget or didn't meet user expectations--and 41 percent "failed completely."

Clay Johnson, CEO of a nonprofit that develops technology for government, and Harper Reed, former CTO of Obama for America, laid much of the blame on the 1,800-page Federal Acquisition Regulation. Its complexity leads to contracts going to companies that can best navigate the regulation, he says, not necessarily those that can do the best job.

"The president should use the power of the White House to end all large information technology purchases, and instead give his administration's accomplished technologists the ability to work with agencies to make the right decisions, increase adoption of modern, incremental software development practices … and work with the Small Business Administration and the General Services Administration to make it easy for small businesses to contract with the government," he wrote.

For more information:
- read the Reuters account
- here's the Time report
- check out the second Reuters article
- find the Boston Business Journal article
- see the New York Times commentary

 

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